Engineer's Dilemma: Constant Learning and Forgetting

Engineer's Dilemma: Constant Learning and Forgetting
In: General, Network

As a Network Engineer, I've noticed we're in a constantly evolving field. Traditional networking is already a deep pool of knowledge, covering a wide range of topics. But the tech world doesn't stand still – it's moving at a fast pace.

Now, we're not just dealing with routers and switches. We've got a whole new set of skills to learn. There's Cloud, then there's Automation. We're also diving into tools like Ansible, Docker and Terraform and let's not forget Python. With all these new areas to explore, the big question is how do we keep up? How do we learn all these new skills without forgetting the fundamentals that got us here?

Do You Keep Forgetting?

Let me pull out EIGRP as an example. Back when I was studying for my CCNP certification, EIGRP and I were best buddies. I could set up labs, get EIGRP running between them, and troubleshoot any issues that popped up. Ask me about it now. Well, it's a bit embarrassing, but I'd be scratching my head. I remember something about a 'feasible route', but that's about it.

But here's the thing, it's not that the knowledge has completely vanished. If I need to configure EIGRP, a quick refresher is all it takes for the pieces to fall back into place. The problem is, that EIGRP isn't the only thing on my plate. I'm constantly learning new things, and if I don't regularly use a particular skill at work, it starts to fade away.

There's always this nagging thought at the back of my mind. Picture this: I'm a CCNP, right? Now, imagine someone walks up to me and asks, "Hey, what's NSSA in OSPF?" My immediate reaction? I'd probably want to run away. Why? Because it's been years since I last used NSSA.

My Strategies for Remembering

Overcoming the challenge of forgetting what we learn isn't easy, but I've found my own unique way to deal with it – blogging. Yes, you heard it right, blogging. Whenever I learn something new, I try to write a blog post about it. It might sound a bit odd, but the next time I need a refresher, I don't have to go through books or online forums, I just revisit my blog. It's like having a conversation with my past self, reminding me of what I once learnt.

But that's not the only trick in the book. Here are some other simple techniques that I find useful.

  1. Practice Makes Perfect - It's an old saying but it holds true. Regularly practicing what you've learnt helps cement it in your memory. Set up a lab, experiment with configurations, break things, and then fix them. This hands-on approach works wonders.
  2. Teach Others - They say the best way to learn is to teach. When you explain a concept to someone else, you're not just helping them; you're reinforcing your own understanding and retention.
  3. Stay Curious - Always ask questions. Why does this work this way? What happens if I do this? Curiosity not only leads to deeper understanding but also helps in retaining information.
  4. Use It or Lose It - Try to apply your knowledge in real-world scenarios. If you've learnt a new scripting technique, find a way to use it in your daily tasks. Practical application is key to retention.

Remember, it's not just about learning; it's about making that learning stick. Sometimes, the simplest methods are the most effective.

Written by
Suresh Vina
Tech enthusiast sharing Networking, Cloud & Automation insights. Join me in a welcoming space to learn & grow with simplicity and practicality.
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